What is a memory for which you are grateful?
Take a moment to put yourself back into the memory, see the colors, hear the sounds, feel the emotions attached to the recollection.
Be there, just for an instant, stretch your imagination back to that moment. Breathe in the thoughts and feelings.
A precious memory I have is from when I was 8 or 9. My family was living in Kentucky, at Ft Knox. If you are familiar with the area, you know that there are many little civil war cemeteries in the most unusual places. Some are forgotten in forests or sit lonely on top of hills. My dad and I loved to go on walks or bike rides together, exploring, and we’d pour over local maps to find these hidden pieces of history.
One of these little collections of stone monuments sat on top of a hill, right above the Kentucky Fried Chicken. The tallest obelisk poked out from tall grasses and my little historian imagination would go wild every time we drove past.
The problem was getting to it.
Kentucky wasn’t a place you went treading in grass above your head. Critters of the slithering kind were often minding their own business there. But I was not deterred, pestering my dad repeatedly, until one day, he agreed and we forged our way up the steep slope and unkempt path back in time to the 19th century.
The cemetery was small, less than 10 monuments, worn with weather and years. I was thrilled. The forgottenness of the place just made it more mysterious and separate from the commercial strip below.
And that my dad was willing to take me still makes me smile. I am grateful for this, one of many wonderfully clear memories of my dad’s love.
Three years ago, I stumbled upon Ann Voscamp’s A Holy Experience blog where she challenges her readers to count gratitudes to 1000 and beyond, small and large. Since then, thankfulness has changed my life and my relationships. When I want to enter deeply into the present moment, especially with people close to me, I count gratitudes. Alongside paying attention, it is one of the foundations of contemplative living and makes any moment a moment of worship.
When we look for what we are thankful, our hearts expand, hope is near, and love over-flows. We stop consuming life and start living it, with and through the presence of God.
Practice: Write down 5 things you are grateful for. Not what you think you should be grateful for, but the people, places, memories, sights, smells, sounds, feelings, that make your heart and mind sing, “Oh, yes, thank you God!” I’d love to hear what’s on your list.
And visit Ann’s blog for some printables to start your own list of 1000 gifts.